Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Context is Everything

Like Jacob S. I'm not a huge fan of politics during election time. Most of all I don't like the misrepresentation of candidates and policies through "news" and paid advertisements. Although some of them kind be pretty funny, like this one from our friends to the north.

I've never heard of this guy before. I don't really know if he goes around kicking the random 14 year old in the face, but my gut says that the video of him in full soccer drag, swinging at a ball, is a bit out of context in terms of representing his political ideology. Sure, his attempt at trapping the ball looked more like something from MMA, but it would be nice to see the before and after to know this politicians intention and response.

Likewise, the media is adept at spinning benign comments into dangerous political fodder. In a recent interview with RollingStone magazine, President Obama was asked about his current taste in music. Fox picked up his response in full, but spun the headlines just so to make it, em, intriguing.

"President of the United States Loves Gangsta Rap"

Fox has since taken down the heading, and brushed it away as editorial privilege under the claim that Fox Nation is not the same as Fox News, and is therefore not responsible to the same level of truth in reporting. Obama's full answer:

My iPod now has about 2,000 songs, and it is a source of great pleasure to me. I am probably still more heavily weighted toward the music of my childhood than I am the new stuff. There's still a lot of Stevie Wonder, a lot of Bob Dylan, a lot of Rolling Stones, a lot of R&B, a lot of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Those are the old standards.

A lot of classical music. I'm not a big opera buff in terms of going to opera, but there are days where Maria Callas is exactly what I need.
Thanks to Reggie [Love, the president's personal aide], my rap palate has greatly improved. Jay-Z used to be sort of what predominated, but now I've got a little Nas and a little Lil Wayne and some other stuff, but I would not claim to be an expert. Malia and Sasha are now getting old enough to where they start hipping me to things. Music is still a great source of joy and occasional solace in the midst of what can be some difficult days.
So, while we can indeed see that Obama admits to having some Rap in his collection (Lil Wayne and Nas), I don't know that I would go so far as to say that he LOVES rap. It would be like saying that likes a California roll every now and then LOVES sushi. The point is, a half truth can be as misleading and detrimental as a full lie.
I haven't visited Utah for a while now. I wasn't present at the recent protests regarding President Boyd K Packer's remarks on homosexuality. I did hear the remarks, in context, and definitely didn't take them as anti-gay. The LDS Church's stance on homosexuality is clear, and we have hashed through it many times before. I feel that one of the fundamental reasons that so many people were so distraught by the speech is because of the way the statements were taken out of context. Read the entire speech for yourself and make your own decision. More of that talk is on the importance of strengthening families than anything else.

Score another one for the misrepresentation of taking things out of context. Check the primary source, especially when it comes to important issues, be it political or otherwise.

Monday, October 25, 2010

I Hate Election Season

It's been a little slow around here and I can blame life being busy and tumultuous and, ironically, election season.  A political blog should be hoppin' during election season but I find that elections make me disillusioned and sad for America.  While we don't practice the most honorable politics in non-election seasons, during elections the level of political discourse on all sides plummets and candidates compete in a race to the bottom.  Perhaps the worst aspect of democracy is the elections.

The candidates believe, correctly, that Americans care more about wedge issues and digestible soundbites than substantive discussions of the issues.  They know by now that Americans like to be reaffirmed in what they believe as opposed to being challenged by new and novel ideas.  They know that Americans are tribalistic and like to think in terms of "us v. them" as opposed to finding ways to come together for the common good.  They are more interested in not making a gaffe than in saying or doing something truly memorable and inspiring and taking chances, because any little gaffe in this era of 24-hour cable news and the internet will be magnified beyond all reasonable limits of logic and decency.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Donald Duck and Glenn Beck

Andrew posted this on facebook and I thought it was awesome enough to post here, as well.  It starts a little slow but picks up steam after about two minutes.

The best part, though, is Beck's reaction on his radio show.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Between a Cult and a Hard Place

Here's a fun little question:  Which major American political party is friendlier to Mormons?  Just like the question I asked before about which party is more likely to nominate a presidential candidate, this one isn't as simple as it seems.

Now, we at the Mormon Left have spent a couple years showing that Mormonism and liberalism are just as compatible (more compatible, in my opinion, but that's just an opinion) as Mormonism and conservatism.  This post is not about which major ideology is most compatible with Mormonism.  It is about which party is more friendly to Mormons.  The simple answer is that the bases of parties both think we are a cult, but with their own twists.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Restrained and Intelligent Foreign Policy

In keeping with a recent tradition of writing an entire post just to announce I'm adding another link to the sidebar on a blog that very few people actually read (ahh! self-deprecation is nice!), I'm announcing that I'm adding a new link to the sidebar and I strongly suggest you click on this one.  The link is to a blog on the website Foreign Policy by Stephen M. Walt.  If you're interests range outside of domestic politics at all, and they really should, then Walt's blog is a must read, in my opinion.

In response to the odious Bill Kristol's recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal which uses fear-mongering to lobby for continuing the current insane level of funding for our bloated military-industrial complex, Walt gives several reasons why cutting "defense" spending is necessary but unlikely.  He concludes with this:
Which brings me to my main point. Although it is mind-boggling to realize that five percent of the world's population (the United States) now spends more on defense than the other 95 percent put together, this situation is hard to avoid when you see threats emerging virtually everywhere and when you think all of them are best met by an ambitious and highly interventionst foreign policy. If Americans want to be able to go anywhere and do anything, then they are going to have keep spending lots of money, even if all that activity merely reinforces anti-American extremism and makes more people want to come after us. (And for more on that latter point, read this book).

If you want to cut defense spending significantly, in short, you have to make some non-trivial adjustments in U.S. grand strategy. As some of you know, I think the United States would be both more prosperous and safer if we had a more restrained grand strategy and a more intelligent foreign policy. Until that happens, however, reducing defense spending itself is going to be an uphill fight, and our defense expenditures will be closer to the views of Kristol et al than to mine. Unfortunately.